THE NEW Christchurch representative for the council’s ‘lead member’ roles has said that he intends to use his new position to “re-balance the funding to the town”.

Highcliffe and Walkford ward councillor Nigel Brooks has been appointed by BCP Council leader Drew Mellor to create a conurbation-wide retail strategy and focus on work in Christchurch area.

He joins Cllr Steve Baron who will head up ecological work while overseeing regeneration work in Poole, and Cllr Beverley Dunlop who will be tasked with focusing on the council’s event’s programme and regeneration in Bournemouth.

The independent candidate has said his move to join the Conservative-led administration is apolitical and instead for the benefit of Christchurch residents.

Cllr Brooks said: “Under the previous administration, there is a lot of inward funding to the Bournemouth and Poole areas but, in my opinion, there seems to be very little funding for the Christchurch area.

“So when Drew Mellor said that he was looking for people outside of the Conservative party to help them shape a plan which includes Christchurch, I felt that it was a good opportunity to help rebalance the funding to the town.

“Politicians throw around this phrase ‘levelling up’, well I think it is about time that there is a bit of levelling up between Christchurch and the other towns in the conurbation.”

Having helped with investments all over the UK, Cllr Brooks aims to put his “skillset and experience to good use in assisting the current administration”.

After BCP Council announced their final ‘lead member’ roles, the councillor received a backlash from some residents saying that he had betrayed voters, to which he said, “that’s just not true”.

He added: “I am still very much in support of Vikki Slade and the Unity Alliance and I have made that very clear to Cllr Drew Mellor.

“It is a difficult position to be in as many people think that I have jumped ship but that is simply not true.

“As a councillor in Christchurch, we need to have someone at the top table to make sure that the voices and concerns of this part of the conurbation are heard. We need to establish a better balance between the three towns.”

This comes after members of the Christchurch Independent wrote an open letter to the Echo saying that the public “should be told" the reasoning behind Cllr Brook's decision to assist the current administration.

They added: “As both Cllr Brooks and Cllr Baron were elected just 19 months ago on self-evidently non-Tory tickets, the voters of Highcliffe and Poole clearly have a right to know if their new paid cabinet positions come with strings attached.”

Cllr Lesley Dedman said: "Cllr Nigel Brooks' decision to get into bed with the Tories immediately after supporting the alliance has raised a few eyebrows. But nevertheless, as an independent, he is perfectly free to work with who he feels necessary to do so."